Commentary

RSN Issues Start At The Top: A Focus On Teams, Leagues?

TV sports remain a major focus for viewers and marketers, but we continue to look more granularly and wonder: Is this for all distribution outlets?

Viable high-profile sports franchises -- the NBA and NHL-- take in healthy sports licensing revenues from national TV networks ABC, ESP, and TNT. No issues here.

But looking at regional sports network viewership and business monetization, they must wonder what to do next.

This is a result of the largest regional sports network group -- Diamond Sports, which is still facing financial trouble, in bankruptcy protection since last March -- as well as others that are disbanding, like Warner Bros. Discovery Sports (formerly AT&T SportsNet).

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The pressing question is not about the viability of sports -- especially national TV sports. It is more about sports being caught in the local and regional linear TV ecosystem where major consumer pricing goes sky high, and where $20 to $25 a month per month is a regular thing.

Given the price sensitivity of consumers these days, the natural choice would seem to be to start big league-owned streaming platforms. But can you bring along those same price points? perhaps there can be some discount  with less distribution/middlemen (pay TV) fees and less greed overall.

Pay TV providers of RSNs have routinely complained about thin profit margins from the RSNs group sellers. That is why many backed out. It also has not helped that traditional cable pay TV consumers continue to opt out extra high-priced “tiers” of cable TV networks.

The leagues and teams might be worried this could all come back to haunt them. Perhaps they should set their revenue goals far lower.

'Inside/Out 2' Goes Outside The Box With A Massive $155M Movie OpeningBut will consumers (which come by way to them through expected TV rights fees)? 

You might ask what is really going on here.

Think heightened awareness around post-season games, and then think of the supply and demand of regular-season games.

The regular season: Baseball has 162 regular season games per team; NBA and NHL each have 82 game schedules. Top drawer NFL -- just 17 games.

All three sports count heavily on RSN TV rights revenues. But the NFL? It has no RSN deals. All are on national or local broadcast and/or streaming. 

In any event, there is supply-and-demand economics working in the NFL’s favor. Way less supply, and lots of viewer (and thus) advertiser demand.

So if the RSN ecosystem wants to get its act together. The entire business’ up-and-down-revenue-food chain needs to readjust financial expectations coming from the league and teams.

Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL now have a different kind of practice and workout plans to consider.

1 comment about "RSN Issues Start At The Top: A Focus On Teams, Leagues?".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, June 17, 2024 at 9:04 p.m.

    I think the MLB teams should try and get deals with local TV for a limited number of games and make deals with Pay-TV they still need them but can't put all the games on streaming which has been a flop. NBA's new media rights with Amazon & Peacock will be a flop as well along with The Big East Basketball on Peacock as well. The local teams need to be on a linear broadcast since that is where most eyeballs are at the local sports teams need broadcast TV more than broadcast TV needs local sports.

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